Express Scripts and Walgreens Boots Will Expand Purchasing Efforts to Include Biosimilars

Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts and Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc, have announced that they will expand their group purchasing efforts to include specialty drugs, including biologics and biosimilars.
The Center for Biosimilars Staff
February 21, 2018
Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts and Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc, have announced that they will expand their group purchasing efforts to include specialty drugs, including biologics and biosimilars. The companies will use ValoremRx Specialty Solutions to source specialty drugs, which the companies say will simplify the supply chain and lead to lower drug costs.

“Specialty medications represent the most costly and complex drugs. By expanding our efforts with Walgreens Boots Alliance, we will improve our supply chain and ultimately make the use of these medicines, including biosimilars, more affordable and accessible for our patients and clients,” said Express Scripts president and CEO Tim Wentworth in a statement.

Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Co-COO, Alex Gourlay, added, “As prescription drug needs evolve and specialty medications are prescribed more often, we continue to look for new solutions that will help our patients get the medications they need at an affordable price.”

Specialty medicines have been a growing concern for Express Scripts, which in 2017 released a report that said that 0.3% of Express Scripts members accounted for 21.3% of total pharmacy costs and that the number of members who had annual medication costs of $50,000 or more in 2016 was 35% higher than in 2014. Among those with $50,000 or more in prescription drug costs in 2016, more than 25% of costs were for specialty drugs with oncology indications, followed by those treating multiple sclerosis, inflammatory conditions, and hepatitis C.

The PBM has said that using biosimilars of bevacizumab, epoetin alfa, trastuzumab, adalimumab, interferon alfa-2a, pegfilgrastim, peginterferon alfa-2b, rituximab, infliximab, and filgrastim could potentially save $250 billion. In its 2018 preferred national formulary, Express Scripts has since signaled a push toward biosimilars, namely in excluding the name-brand Neupogen (filgrastim) in favor of the follow-on Granix or the biosimilar Zarxio.

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